How to plan a Trip to Santorini Greece from India
Planning a trip to Greece from India? Betting you that Santorini is on your itinerary. And rightly so.
Most of you know Santorini (also known as Thira) for it's breathtakingly beautiful sunsets that the honeymooners rave about. But lately it has become quite popular among all kinds of leisure travelers from India.
And that is why we created this complete guide on how to plan a trip to Santorini from India.
Below, we tell you all aspects of travel to Santorini from India. Visa, Flights, Accommodation, Food..we got everything covered.
We are pretty confident that you won't need another guide once you are done reading this.
Here we go
All of you know that Santorini is an Island paradise in Greece. But Greece has quite a few Islands. Where exactly is Santorini?
Well, Santorini belongs to the Cyclades. an Island group to the south-east of Greece. Some other prominent islands (out of a total of 220) that belong to the Cyclades are Mykonos, Delos, Naxos and Paros. Santorini is the southern most Island in the group.
How to travel to Santorini from India
Santorini being an Island destination is accessible only by Air and Sea.
The Santorini International Airport has direct connectivity to the Capital (Athens) and many of the other European cities such as Paris, Madrid, London, Frankfurt, Brussels etc. It also connects to many of the other Greek islands such as Heraklion, Crete, Chania etc.
There are 2 ports in Santorini that connect Ferries/ ships from Athens and other Islands.
There are various combinations of land, sea and air routes you can take to reach Santorini from India. Here are the most popular options.
Option 1: Via Athens
The best connectivity to Greece from India is to Athens. You can read more about this in our Article on "How to plan a trip to Greece from India"
Once you get to Athens, you have a couple of options to get to Santorini.
1a) Take a Ferry from Athens to Santorini
Athens is well connected to Santorini via ferries. There are 2 ports in Athens (Pireaus and Rafina). Both of these ports have daily connections to Santorini. Pireaus (closer to Athens city) is the one that has the most frequent connections.
The ferry from Athens to Santorini can take anything from 5 to 8 hours depending on the type of ferry you take (slow/ fast), and sea conditions.
The ferry costs around 40-70 euros (approx Rs. 3,000 to 4,000) again depending on type of ferry and season of travel.
The ferries usually offer executive seats in air conditioned settings. Some ferries also offer cabin accommodation with sleeping facilities.
Please note that availability of ferry connectivity is dependent on the season of travel. Be sure to book your tickets in advance during peak season.
You can compare the best fares on ferryscanner.
FYI, if you think of these ferries as not so big boats that can hold a few people, you would be in for a surprise. Many of these ferries (especially the slow ones) are full sized vessels that transport everything from people to large vans. Here is a sample.
1b) Take a flight from Athens to Santorini
Athens is well connected to Santorini via flights. Some of the popular operators are Ryan Air, Olympic Air, and Volotea.
Flights cost about 30-40 euros per person (Rs. 2,400 to 3,200) when booked in advance.
1c) Take a flight/ ferry to an intermediate island and then travel to Santorini from there.
Ferries and flights are available to other islands too from Athens. In fact the Ferries from Athens to Santorini have halts at other island on the way such as Mykonos, Naxos, Paros etc. You could spend a few days at any of these Islands enroute Santorini.
Option 2: Via other destinations.
Sometimes it makes sense to combine your Santorini trip with other European destinations (due to ease of connectivity).
2a) Fly in from other popular European destinations
Most popular European destinations (Paris, Brussels etc.) have good connectivity from metro cities in India, and also with Santorini.
You could fly to one of these destinations from India, spend a few days and then take a direct flight to Santorini.
2b) Take a Ferry from other destinations;
Many Mediterranean destinations (Italy, Malta, Turkey etc.) have Ferry connectivity with the Greek Islands. You could spend time at one of these places and then take a ferry into Santorini based on connectivity available.
Option 3: Take a cruise
There are any options when it comes to cruises. For e.g. there are Greek Island cruises that cover the major islands. There are also Mediterranean cruises that halt at Santorini en-route to other destinations such as Malta, Cyprus, Madrid etc.
Getting into the details of cruising is out of the scope of this article. You can find plenty of data online on this.
Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement. A Schengen visa is all one requires to travel to Santorini.
If you need more info, check out our article on Step-by-step process to obtain a Schengen Visa from India.
What is the best time to visit Santorini
In one Word; SUMMER
Island destinations are all about warm beach waters, a pleasant sun and colorful drinks with little umbrellas in them. Santorini is no exception.
Summer is the best time to experience all these and that beautiful sunset you've only seen in pictures.
Summer in Europe starts in May, peaks in July-August (the hottest months).
Visit in May, June to avoid the peak summer crowd from Europe. However, the waters may warm enough this early in summer.
July and August are good times to visit, however one can expect a lot of crowd as this is peak holiday season in Europe.
Here is a temperature chart that will give you a fair idea.
The best place to stay in Santorini
Although Santorini is a small Island (20 km long), each area within the island have different things to offer.
Hence, to figure out what is the best place to stay in Santorini, one needs to first understand the main centers on the Island, and what each has to offer.
Here is a map of Santorini with the major destinations marked on it.
There are three main centers in Santorini. One each in the North, Centre and the South.
Oia is a bustling city center. It is situated in the north of Santorini on the coast.
Oia is a busy town filled with food joints, hotels, and other buildings. Seen those pictures of white cycladic buildings adorning the cliffs?. That is most likely Oia if not Fira.
Oia is also the best view point for the Iconic Santorini Sunset.
Fira is the heart of Santorini. Fira again has a lot of eateries and other commercial establishments. The new port where the ferries dock is also located in Fira. Fira too is a scenic location similar to Oia.
Perissa is a less crowded location in the south of Santorini. It's got a long line of beaches with chairs and umbrellas laid out. There are many restaurants adjoining the beach with pretty good food. Accommodation is usually the cheapest in this part of Santorini.
Apart from the above, there are also small quaint villages (e.g. Pyrgos kallistis) that are located around these main centers. These are away from the coast and are not that well connected by public transport. Some of these villages are quiet scenic with little neighborhood grocery stores, cute eateries and winding cobblestone alleys on hilly terrains.
Where you should stay in Santorini depends completely on your holiday preferences.
If you want to be at the center of the action and do not mind the bustle of the crowds, stay in Oia or Fira.
If you need a more peaceful beach location, stay in Perissa. If a quaint little village is what you are looking for , opt for one of the quiet villages in between.
If you are opting to stay in a private beach resort, choose one that has really scenic views. Make sure you have connectivity sorted when staying at such places.
Do check out the section on local travel before finalizing a location of stay.
How to choose an accommodation in Santorini
Santorini offers one all kinds of accommodation options. Airbnbs, Guest Houses, hotels of all classes, and beach resorts. Although Santorini is not popular among backpackers, you can find a couple of hostels too.
There are options to suit all kind of budgets too. Luxury villas with pools that extend into your bedroom could cost a bomb. Cozy cute cycladic Airbnb houses are available in plenty, and are affordable.
If you decide to stay in Oia, you can even opt for one of those cycladic spots on the cliff with a view of the sunset.
Personally, we have found Airbnbs to be a very good option. Many of them are affordable, comfy and come with all facilities. A lot of them even have patios outside the house where one can enjoy a nice Mediterranean meal with friends and family.
Here are the listings of typical highly rated Airbnb stays in Santorini
Local Travel in Santorini
Santorini is a small island and all the major locations are not too far form each other. Half an hour at most to each place from any part of the island.
Here are the options you have when it comes to local travel.
a) Public Buses
The public buses ply from Oia in the north through Fira up till Perissa in the south. They halt en-route at various places. If you place of stay is located in one of these places, public buses are a good option for you.
Buses are as frequent as 1 every half an hour. They also cost only about 2 Euros (Rs 160) per head per trip.
There is also a bus route that connects the Airport to Fira.
Taxis are available but are not cheap by any standards. From personal experience, a distance of under 10 kms would cost about 20 Euros (Rs 1,600).
A Taxi from the Airport to Fira will cost you about 20 Euros (Rs. 1,600)
c) Renting a car/ motorbike
Renting a car/motorbike is the best way to explore Santorini. If you are travelling as a group, this will also turn out to be the cheapest option.
Having a vehicle of your own is essential if you are staying at a remote location (e.g. beach resort) that has no public transport connectivity.
That said, please keep these in mind when renting a vehicle:
a) The Greeks drive on the right side of the road. Takes time for us Indians to get used to this.
b) The roads in Santorini are narrow, winding, and hilly.
BTW, did you know that you can transport your rented vehicle from island to island on the ferrry. This is a very good option to explore remote islands that do not have good transport facilities.
And don't worry it is a hassle-free process.
Things to do/ Places to visit in Santorini
Getting into details of each and everything to do in Santorini is outside the scope of this article.
However, we'll tell you about some of the stuff you shouldn't miss.
a) Watch the sunset in Oia:
This is probably the most important item on the agenda for you.
The best place to view the beautiful Santorini sunset is Oia.
The sunset can be viewed from one of the pathways along the cliff. However, we advise you to get a nice table at a restaurant overlooking the ocean.
Protip: The restaurants on the cliff facing the ocean gets crowded closer to the sunset time. Arrive early and get a table with an excellent view.
b) Visit the countrysides
Like we said before, the country side is beautiful with cave houses, vineyards, gardens and small Greek orthodox churches. Spend a day exploring them. They are worth it.
c) Visit a winery
Santo Vineyards is the most popular vineyards. It is located en route Fira to Perissa.
d) Visit the island of Thirassia
Thirassia is a small island close to Santorini. You can visit this island to see small villages and beautiful churches.
e) Visit the volcanic islands of Kameni
This can be done by booking a boat excursion
f) Do the walk from Fira to Oia
Walk along the Caldera from Fira to Oia for stunning views of the ocean and the Island.
Mind you, this is not an easy walk. The walk itself is about 10 kms. In some places, the paths are not stone laid. Be sure to carry well cushioned shoes. Do it if you can. It's worth the view.
g) Visit some of the stunning beaches of Santorini
Santorini has many stunning beaches. Here are the details of a few.
i) The red beach:
Take the bus to Akrotiri and climb the cliffs to reach the red beach. It is a small beach and could be bit crowded during peak season.
ii) The white beach
This is one of the smallest beaches of Santorini. This beach can only be accessed by boat (from the red beach or Akrotiri). You wont find much crowd here.
iii) Perivolos Beach
This is the beach in Perissa. There are many restaurants and bars near the beach.
There are small boats which let you do beach hopping. The charges are around 10 euros per person for unlimited hopping between Islands.
These are just some of the stuff to do in Santorini. You don't have to limit yourself to these. Go out, explore, and uncover those hidden gyms. Be a traveller.
You must be wondering how much all this will cost. Here is a list of activities and their cost as indicated on viator.com (an international activity booking site)
Food in Santorini
We guarantee you that Santorini won't disappointing you when it comes to food. Beautiful Tavernas that serve authentic Greek food are plenty. You will also find good authentic Mediterranean food such as Pizzas, salads etc.
There are options for vegetarians too. A vegetarian gyro anyone? How about a tzatziki or an authentic Greek Salad?
Here is a sample that will water your mouth.
Just don't go looking for Indian food. You are unlikely to find any.
A meal for 2 at a decent place would cost you around 15-20 Euros without drinks.
If you want to get a fair idea of how much food costs in Santorini, here is a chart from Numbeo.com with the latest prices.
Protip: If Alcohol is a necessity, buy a bottle from the duty-free on the way. Drinks on the island can be mighty costly.
Managing Money in Santorini
The currency used in Greece is Euro.
1 Euro = Approx. Rs. 80
Although the island is small and remote, the banking system is pretty good there. Most transactions are done in cash. Cards are also accepted in most places.
Money can be withdrawn from ATMs mostly in Fira and Oia
If are you are staying in one of the countrysides, you may have difficulty finding an ATM. Withdraw sufficient funds when you travel to Fira/ Oia.
How much will a trip to Santorini cost
Well, the cost of a trip depends entirely on which flights/ routes you take, what kind of accommodation you stay at etc.
However, you can estimate near accurately the cost of other stuff such as food, lodging, local travel etc. Let us calculate the expenses per head for a 4 night stay in Santorini
Cost of Ferry from and to Santorini: Approx 100 Euros per head
Cost of Food: Assuming 2 meals at restaurants outside and 1 at the Airbnb (self prepared stuff such as bread, corn flakes etc): 30 Euros per day x 4 = 120 Euros
Accommodation (twin sharing): 25 euros per head per day x 4 = 100 Euros
Local Travel for 4 days: Approx: 25 Euros per head for the entire 4 days
Total: Apprx 350 Euros or Rs. 28,000 per head for time spent at Santorini
Please note that the above expenses are excluding any sight seeing/ activity expenses you may incur (e.g. boat excursion, scuba diving etc.)
If you want to know the costing for a full Greece trip that includes Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, check out our Greece Article
What to pack for a trip to Santorini
You should pretty much carry the same stuff you would carry on a European vacations. Just add in some stuff for beach fun/water sports.
However, Here are some things outside the usual that you may want to consider:
a) A well cushioned pair of sneakers: Absolutely Necessary if you plan to do the walk from Fira to Oia.
b) A microfiber travel towel: A compact, light weight, quick drying, easy to carry towel. This one really helps during a beach vacation.
c) A cardigan/ pullover: Even it summer, the nights can be cold.
d) Ready to mix tea packets: European tea is expensive, bland and not available everywhere. Carry your own ready mix tea that you can prepare using a kettle/ at your Airbnb kitchen.
e) A portable umbrella: Summers can get really sunny.
f) A foldable travel backpack: You are bound to do a lot of walking in Santorini. Carry a foldable/packable travel backpack that you can carry in your check-in bag. Unfold it and carry your essentials (passport, wallet, sunglasses etc.) in it during sigh-seeing. Fold it back when done and carry it back to India.
If you need a complete list of stuff to pack, with step by step instructions, you can check-out our article on How to pack for a trip to Europe from India.
There is a lot more we can tell you about Santorini. However, talking too much could spoil the fun.
This article is meant to ensure that you get the major stuff right when planning your trip.
We'd rather you figure out the rest of it yourself. Some surprises are worth it right?